HERBAL BAKED SNAPPER
Yield: Approximately 6 servings
6 jumbo shrimp (10-12 to the pound)
1 bay leaf
4-5 pound Red Snapper, head and tail intact, gills and scales removed
3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 fresh basil leaves \
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled and split
3 cup light dry sherry or white vermouth
Kosher salt and black pepper
Hungarian sweet paprika
2 slices black or green olives for the eyes (green may have pimento)
6 long, narrow pimento or roasted red pepper strips for garnish
Handful of watercress for garnish
12 cherry tomatoes for garnish
||Cover the shrimp with water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Boil gently 5 minutes. Remove from the stove and leave the shrimp in the water for another 5 minutes. Peel and remove the black veins from their backs, leaving the shells on their tails. Set aside.
||Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
||Cut fish open along its belly to its backbone. Remove gills and scales and wash the inside. Carefully make a slit along both sides of the bone at the tail section. (Most fishmongers will do this for you)
||Lay a large piece of heavy aluminum foil on a large flat cookie sheet. Brush the foil with oil. If the fish is too large for the foil, lay another piece of foil overlapping the first.
||Sprinkle the fish cavity with salt and pepper. Insert the rosemary, basil and garlic evenly from heat to tail. Brush the cavity with lemon juice and sherry, adding more, if necessary, to moisten the flesh well.
||Close the cavity of the fish. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the skin and head on both sides. Brush well with olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika. Bring up the edges of the foil, tent style. Keeping the fish flat, seal out all the air by folding the edges over each other, being careful not to touch the top of the fish. Fold the ends of the foil tightly together.
||Place in the preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 375 ° F and bake 6-7 minutes per pound. Open the foil and pull a bit of skin up to test flesh. Insert a fork. If the flesh separates easily and is white in color, the fish is done.
||Carefully slide the fish away from the foil onto a large platter with two spatulas. Remove eyes with a small, sharp knife and place a black olive into each socket. Encircle the olives with a narrow strip of pimento. Place 4 pimento strips across for decoration. Arrange watercress, shrimp and tomatoes across the side of the platter. Bring the platter to the table to display. Push away the skin with a sharp knife. Serve one side of the fish. Remove the center bone, garlic, rosemary and basil, and serve the other side. This is best accomplished from a side table or in the kitchen.
Accompany the fish with whole, un-peeled red bliss potatoes and a medley of steamed colorful vegetables, such as sliced yellow crookneck and green squashes, broccoli and baby carrots. Salt the vegetables lightly after they are cooked. They may also be tossed in a little clarified butter. No other seasoning is necessary as an accompaniment to this flavorful fish.